Ben Tzeel

Registered Dietitian, Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist, Living with Type 1 Diabetes

A Little About Ben

Working with Clients

Ben's Thoughts on RxSugar

Ben's Experience with RxSugar

Tell us a little about your role as a dietician and how your Type 1 diabetes diagnosis played into your career choices.

Ben:

I am a registered dietician, certified strength and conditioning specialist and I have lived with Type 1 diabetes for 21 years now, which is kind of crazy to think about. I never thought I'd be doing what I'm doing right now. Everyone thought I'd be in med school. Everyone thought I'd be an engineer. I mean when I was a kid, I thought I'd be a baseball player but none of those things happened. I started out in that whole pre-med path and subsequently realized I loved food. After I fell in love with training as a baseball player, I realized my favorite part of everything was getting stronger, watching my lifts go up, watching my speed improve, watching my game improve and I started to realize nutrition was that X-factor. I also realized nutrition was super related to diabetes.

As I was going through college, I started doing some research in that area and I realized, this is what I need to be doing. I realized I didn't want to sit in front of a computer for the rest of my life and tell people 30 years from now when I could tell them right now. So, I switched to become a dietician, got the strength coach certification along the way so I could help people on their fitness goals as well, and really help athletes take their game to the next level.

What are some things that you focus on with your clients now?

Ben:

So, on a day-to-day basis, I run a dietetics practice working mainly with people with diabetes to help them lose weight, help them get strong and really help them rein in their blood sugar, so they're in awesome control as much of the time as possible and also enjoy eating, so they're not feeling like they have to restrict certain things, that they can't have certain things, so they have a strategy for eating the foods that they love while they're losing the weight and while their blood sugars are awesome.

Day-to-day, we're figuring out, okay, based on your activity, what do we need to tweak to make sure you're going to get stronger? What do we need to tweak to make sure that your food is on point? I’m really looking at what people are eating daily. If they're having lows, what do we need to adjust with their food? What do we need to adjust before their workout and coming up with pre-workout and during workout and post-workout strategies. We're talking about just food through the day to optimize their blood sugars and to optimize their body composition so they're feeling their best, looking their best – and it's a lot of fun.

How do you approach recommending specific diet plans for different people?

Ben:

I am definitely not in the one-size-fits-all category. I'm all about – every person has a specific way of eating that is best for them and they have to figure out what that way of eating is where they feel their best. So, keto might work great for somebody. It might work horribly for somebody else and because one person eats a certain way, doesn't mean it's going to be the best way for you. Every person that I work with, what I do is we figure out, okay, where are you at baseline and where do you want to be and then, based on that, where are you going to feel your best? So whether that's increasing carbs, whether that's taking carbs away and maybe putting carbs in at certain times a day, whatever we have to do, it is my job to help them figure out where they feel the best.

If you want to be keto or you want to be vegan or you want to do intermittent fasting, I have no problem with any of that. You can still reach your goals on any of those ways of eating. It's a commitment. It's something that's going to take some effort. So with diabetes and with anyone in the population, I feel like you have to figure out what is best for you and you can enjoy food. It's not just the oh, you have diabetes, you can't enjoy food. You absolutely can.

RxSugar® is a natural sugar replacement. How can RxSugar® benefit someone’s diet plan, compared to the sugar “substitutes” that are out there or even traditional sugar?

Ben:

Well, regular sugar, from a diabetes perspective, is obviously going to raise your blood sugar. Some of the artificial sweeteners out there, like the sugar alcohol, has the capacity to raise your blood sugar. Some of the other ones have the capacity to either wipe out some of the gut bacteria that's helping your body do a whole lot of things and that's a whole other can of worms but there's a lot of things about them that are kind of just not the greatest in the grand scheme of things versus RxSugar®, where it is natural. It's not going to do anything detrimental to your body, to your gut bacteria and then additionally, it's not going to impact your blood sugar at all and that, to me, as a person with diabetes and as a professional who works with people with diabetes, makes it so powerful is there is literally no effect on your blood sugar.

If you're looking at a weight loss perspective, it will help – because replacing regular sugar with RxSugar® is fantastic in terms of reducing the calories, that may help with your weight loss but you're also not sacrificing the taste with it. A lot of the artificial sweeteners are very, very, very overpowering and they kind of take over the taste of everything. RxSugar® does not do that and that, to me, is monumental. Because the last thing I want is I'm eating something and all I can taste is that sweetener. This, I can actually taste what I'm supposed to be eating.

What has your own personal experience with RxSugar® been like?

Ben:

Real talk – I tried it with just having like a teaspoon of it just to see if I like the taste of it and it was like oh, this is actually good. And so then, my go-to thing is I like making protein desserts and protein pancakes just because that's always my favorite thing and putting it in those, it was the perfect amount of hey, there's a little bit of sweetness to this and now it's extra enjoyable instead of it being a little bit on the bitter side or just a little bit of really no taste. I noticed a huge taste difference and then blood sugar wise, I knew, okay, if I dose for strictly what is in this particular food, there's not going to be any difference. It's not like, oh, there's RxSugar® in it, I have to account for more. It was fantastic.

So, that, to me, was monumental. The desserts have been fantastic. My girlfriend has used it as well when she makes things for us and I'm like okay, great, I don't have to worry about anything sugar-related because I know I can just put this in there instead and that's been my favorite. I'm not a huge coffee person but she is and she says it's fantastic as well. I feel like I probably use it too often, but I don't think that's a bad thing!

Many artificial sweeteners tend to have some awful side effects. How is RxSugar® different in that regard?

Ben:

There has been no indigestion relative to some of the other ones where even some of the sugar free gums, you'd have them and then later on, you got all this gas. There's nothing. I'm not just saying that just to say it. I'm being completely serious. I'm one of those people that really quick, I will know if something's going to mess with my stomach.

Why do low-carb, low-sugar diets work for many people?

Ben:

One of the big draws for why a lot of people with diabetes tend to flock towards a lower carb or lower sugar nutrition plan is that the less carbs and less sugar that there is, ideally the fewer glycemic excursions, which is the fancy way of saying the less variability there should be in blood sugar. So, carbs are going to be that main driver of making your blood sugar rise, of course, and if you reduce that amount of carbs, ideally, your blood sugar doesn't rise quite as much. Now, fat and protein still have their own affects. Protein has the capacity to be converted into sugar and make your blood sugar go up and fat has the capacity that once your blood sugar is higher, to keep it sustained higher for a lot longer period of time.

However, if people reduce carbs, a lot of the time, they find that their blood sugars may be easier to manage, however, they also have to then have to compensate in other ways to ensure they're still getting the amount of nutrition, the amount of calories that their body needs to run most efficiently. It can have differing effects on workouts and there's a lot of other pieces that have to be figured out but at the end of the day, some people gravitate to it and they find it better for their blood sugars. I know I have clients that are on lower carb diets and they do great. I also have clients who are eating 400 carbs a day and they're also doing spectacular. Both have A1Cs under six. So, it's truly an individualized process.

What is next for you and your career?

Ben:

I have my group program called Blood Sugar Boss that will be launched at the end of this month and then into early next month, the start in mid-October and it's super, super exciting. It's 10 weeks where it's very hands on. You've got video trainings. You've got live coaching with me directly but the most important part is you kick start your metabolism and you learn all of the hacks to keep your blood sugar in a straight line as much of the time as possible, figuring out exercise, figuring out how to eat the things that you truly love and knowing, okay, what are different nutrients going to do to my blood sugar so they're not going to constantly put you on the blood sugar rollercoaster. So, we're taking ourselves off that rollercoaster and making it easier for you to do the things that you love without diabetes constantly interfering.

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Work with Ben

He's dedicated his life to helping people with diabetes to reach their nutrition, weight, and blood sugar goals while living a life with diabetes on the backburner.

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